GPD: Chief’s IA investigation concludes Keys, Hancock falsified multiple records, violated oath of office

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

A Griffin Police Department Internal Affairs investigation of Curtis Keys and Dwayne Hancock substantiated both officers falsified multiple official records and violated their oath of office pertaining to the agency’s Off Duty/Extra Duty Job Policy.
This information was obtained subsequent to an Open Records request submitted to the city of Griffin Aug. 1. The city declined to release the records at that time citing that both Keys and Hancock remained under investigation.
More than a month later, on Sept. 7, a portion of the requested records was released.
The records received indicate the GPD conducted an administrative investigation under which Keys and Hancock were advised of their rights under Garrity and had signed a Garrity waiver, which requires the officer to cooperate with the investigation without legal counsel, with the assurance that its findings will not be used in a criminal prosecution. The findings can be used administratively.
According to GPD Chief Mike Yates, who is listed as the complainant, Hancock was initially questioned as a witness in an Internal Affairs investigation of Keys, before becoming a suspect himself.
“During this investigation, information was received that indicated that Sgt. Hancock was violating the aforementioned policy (the city of Griffin Police Department’s Off Duty/Extra Duty Job Policy – Special Order 16-00009),” the report stated. “While Sgt. Hancock was originally interviewed as a witness, it soon became obvious that he too was involved in or engaging in practices that were not permitted as they relate to the off duty/extra duty job policy.”
The investigative summary stated Keys’ records show he participated in part-time employment while on the clock for the city of Griffin. The evidence included video surveillance footage from Griffin United Bank branches, and while examining those videos, Hancock was allegedly observed providing service to United Bank while wearing his GPD Criminal Investigation Division training uniform.
“A check of his Paychex time card showed that he was on the clock during this service as on this day, he clocked in at 8:12 a.m. and out at 4:33 p.m.,” the summary stated. “Clearly, providing this service was outside the scope of his duties and assignment in the Criminal Investigation Division where he was supposed to have been engaged in the investigation of criminal cases assigned to him…..”
Yates reported that during a June 26, interview, Hancock, while under a Garrity warning, acknowledged he provided those services to United Bank for Keys to “help him out,” but denied he received compensation for that service. GPD records indicate Hancock did not requisite signed permission form to provide off duty service to United Bank.
During that interview, Hancock was also questioned about his off-duty employment by the Griffin Housing Authority.
“During this series of questioning, Sgt. Hancock admitted that some portion of the patrol log sheets he turned into the Housing Authority were not accurate. When questioned further, he admitted that there are patrol log sheets that he filled out, indicating that he (Hancock) was in a particular place in the Housing Authority at a particular time engaged in a particular patrol related activity that would reflect he was engaged in said activities when in fact, he was not,” Yates report stated. “He further admitted and agreed that this type of activity could be considered fraud.”
Yates stated Hancock “attempted to justify this practice” by explaining he had actually worked the hours for which he was paid at other times when he “rode through or handled some problem and essentially credited himself with the time toward providing this service.”
“A review of the daily log sheets produced by Sgt. Hancock for the Housing Authority for the period reviewed created a scenario where each of the sheets appeared to be essentially a rubber stamp of the others. The log sheets did not reflect any significant law enforcement activity (no arrests, no tickets, no traffic stops, etc.) and there was no significant variation in the reports. Variation in activities conducted would be expected if such enforcement and patrol services were actually performed,” Yates reported. “In subsequent interviews, Sgt. Hancock essentially stated that he would from time to time ‘ride through’ in the Housing Authority areas while in his personal vehicle (to provide service) in off hours after leaving the ball field or some other activity. There is no provision in his contract for the use of his personal vehicle and the use of his personal vehicle for law enforcement activities is also prohibited by policy. This justification appears to be nothing more than an attempt to indicate hours performed, not listed on the patrol log sheets, as a method to justify hours worked that were not performed or reflected appropriately on the log sheets.”
Based on Hancock’s statements during the June 26 interview, which the Chief classified as an admission of intentional log sheet inaccuracies, and the reported “attempts at justification of said inaccuracies as well as the questions that arose regarding his off-duty job conduct,” Yates determined that Hancock would be sent to the LaGrange Police Department to undergo a polygraph examination.
In his summary, Yates contends that in the pre-polygraph questioning, Hancock denied falsifying the patrol log sheets, and “attempted to justify the manipulation of these patrol log sheets by interjecting the concept of ‘comp time.’”
Yates further contended there is no provision for said comp time in Hancock’s contract with the Griffin Housing Authority, and that the Police Department does not apply the use of such as it relates to off-duty employment.
In a letter addressed to GPD Lt. Mike Natale, the LaGrange Police Department polygraphist, Greg Corbitt, stated, “On June 29, 2017, Dwayne Hancock was administered a polygraph examination concerning an allegation of officer misconduct. It is the polygraphist’s opinion that the physiological responses, which are indicative of deception, were noted when Dwayne Hancock answered ‘no’ to the following relevant questions:
‘Did you get payments for scouting movie locations while on official duty?’
‘Did you falsify the Paychex time clock system to get off-duty payments?’
‘Do you know the names of other officers double dipping on official duty?’
‘Did you falsify your log sheets for the Housing Authority?’
Therefore, it is the polygraphist’s opinion that the chart recordings indicate that Dwayne Hancock was deceptive.”
“Given the results of the interviews, evidence and polygraph, it is apparent that Sgt. Hancock claimed to have performed particular services for the Housing Authority at particular places and times (as reflected on his logs) which he in fact did not perform in the manner reflected. He attempted to cover this act by interjecting fabricated concepts of comp time and by justifying his failure to produce accurate time records by interjecting other actions in the Housing Authority during times and places where there was no record produced. Sgt. Hancock essentially made one admission during his first interview on June 26, 2017, but responded with a conflicted account during his polygraph. Sgt. Hancock could not have been truthful during both official inquiries as his stories differed considerably in content and fact. Lastly, during interviews, Sgt. Hancock also admitted providing services to filming crews by briefly stopping traffic etc. while on duty, while assigned to CID (the Criminal Investigation Division), but he denied being compensated for such,” Yates reported. “In conclusion, it is clear that Sgt. Hancock produced false patrol log sheets for the Housing Authority for performing services he in fact did not perform in the manner he reflected, if at all. He violated the off-duty policy by allowing it to interfere with his assigned duties and used his personal vehicle to allegedly provide law enforcement services. His statements regarding these issues were also inaccurate as he made one set of admissions in one interview and purported a different set of explanations and facts in another.”
The summary of a July 6, interview Natale conducted indicates Hancock denied the allegations against him.
Hancock denied falsifying the Paychex time clock system, and said he no longer had the ability to modify those records.
When asked if he knew the names of other officers double dipping on official duty, Natale said Hancock responded by saying, “No, I don’t, and that question seems like I am double dipping and I am not.”
Hancock also provided other statements related to the allegations.
“I asked Sgt. Hancock, ‘Did you falsify your log sheets for the Housing Authority?’ and he replied no, and that he explained to me about comp time that he would go to the housing complex and help them do an inspection on the way home for an hour and a half then take that time off his regular schedule,” Natale reported. “He said it may have been poor paper keeping and poor record keeping on our behalf. Sgt. Hancock stated that he would go watch his kids play sports and then go to the complex in his POV (personally owned vehicle). I asked him if the management knew about him patrolling in his POV, and he replied, ‘No, I never told them.’ He said, ‘I only did that because I did not want anyone to think that I was out socializing in my police vehicle’ because his family would go out to eat.”
Also in the records produced was a document prepared by Natale regarding the investigation of Keys.
It included brief summaries of interviews conducted with four individuals with each being asked detailed questions regarding their involvement with Keys and off-duty employment.
In totality, the findings read, “It was determined during the course of the investigation that all three persons listed on Lt. Curtis Keys’ Griffin-Spalding County Housing Authority log sheet were determined to be false. He had listed said individuals on several log sheets as if they were working when in fact they were not. Mr. Keys was subsequently compensated for each false log sheets (sic).”
Natale’s conclusion read, “The allegations against Lt. Curtis Keys has been substantiated based on the investigation. This officer’s (Natale’s) investigation is only a small segment of the entire investigation by Chief Michael Yates.”
While the city of Griffin did provide Natale’s record on Keys, Yates’ investigative records were not released under the claim the investigation remains ongoing. That investigation is being conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
The GRIP has further confirmed that while the allegations Hancock and Keys faced – receiving funds while on duty, violation of GPD policies, violation of the code of ethics and violation of their oath of office – appear to be the same, only Keys has been the subject of a criminal investigation.
According to Griffin City Manager Kenny Smith, Hancock has been the subject of only the internal administrative investigation.
“I was told by the District Attorney that there was no (GBI) investigation into Dwayne Hancock,” Smith said.
When asked if Yates had requested a GBI investigation of Hancock, Smith said, “I thought he (Yates) did, but there must have been some confusion between he and the D.A.’s Office, because the D.A. told me that he did not ask the GBI to investigate Hancock. You would have to ask the D.A. what information he received or if he took it upon himself not to ask the GBI or whether he misunderstood the Chief’s request or what. All I know is he told me there was no investigation into Dwayne Hancock.”
The GRIP asked Smith if Yates intends to specifically request a GBI criminal investigation of Hancock, Smith said, “You’ll have to ask the Chief that, but to the best of my knowledge, he’s not.”
Asked why Yates would not request that investigation now if he intended to do so previously, Smith said, “You’ll have to ask him that. I would assume since Curtis Keys and Dwayne Hancock – since the allegations were similar and I believe the District Attorney is investigating Curtis – that if something was found through the Keys investigation, then he might come back and ask for a Hancock investigation. If nothing was found based on the Keys investigation, then he probably would not, but that’s just surmising on my part.”
Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ben Coker clarified the situation by stating he has not seen all the GPD records.
“The Internal Affairs investigation of Officer Keys and Officer Hancock have not been turned over to my office,” Coker said, later adding, “It hasn’t been turned over to my office because it can’t be the basis of a criminal investigation.”
Coker also addressed the matter of Keys being the sole subject of a GBI criminal investigation.
“The allegation that was brought to my attention was involving Officer Keys, so that’s the request I made,” Coker said.
Questioned as to why Yates would have Coker request a GBI investigation rather than simply requesting one himself, Coker replied, “That’s something you’ll have to ask the Chief. He brought the allegations to me to determine if it was criminal. I looked at it, I was made aware of some of the findings in the Internal Affairs, and I asked the GBI to determine if the allegations were criminal or administrative, and that was for Curtis Keys only.”
He described the GBI’s involvement as a review, and said it is ongoing.
“I wrote the letter to the GBI requesting the investigation based on some allegations in the Internal Affairs, but the GBI conducted their own investigation. It’s ongoing, so I don’t know the results at that time,” he said. “What the GBI is doing is a review process. I asked them to determine if there was something criminal there based on information that was brought to me by Chief Yates It’s an administrative review is what it is. It’s to determine if any actions by officer Keys are deemed criminal or if it should be handled administratively, so it’s a review process is what the GBI told me.”
It is unclear precisely what information Yates turned over to Coker, however, included in the documents The GRIP received was a notice of disciplinary conference provided to Hancock by Yates that cited numerous alleged violations to be discussed during that conference.
It also stated, “During this administrative investigation, as the falsification of documents for the Housing Authority arose, the administrative investigation gave rise to speculation as to the possibility of theft by deception or fraud on Sgt. Hancock’s part,” Yates wrote. “Given this reality, the administrative investigation was essentially concluded as it is believed that an outside entity should be responsible for any type of review associated with criminal allegations. Based on GPD policy, when the possibility of a criminal act occurs, I am compelled to report the facts and circumstances to the District Attorney’s Office for review. It is my recommendation that this part of the investigation be referred to the District Attorney upon completion of the administrative action.”
How Keys became the officer subject to GBI criminal investigation remains unknown.
The GRIP did reach out to Yates for comment, but he declined to be interviewed. He initially declined based on the ongoing nature of the investigation. When given assurance the scope of the interview would be strictly held to Dwayne Hancock – who is no longer under investigation – Yates again declined to be interviewed, but said he would respond to some questions by email.
The GRIP responded, “As I’ve previously explained, I don’t conduct interviews by email. In this particular instance, some of my questions pertain to an off the record conversation. Putting those questions in writing would generate a public document subject to release under the Open Records Act, thus nullifying my prior assurances that the statements made were, indeed, off the record.”
Yates replied by stating, “With consideration to whether or not a reporters (sic) “word” has value, or not, an assurance of an “off the record” conversation either “is” off the record or it is “not” off the record. I trust that your word has value and that your journalistic integrity is just that, or not.

You have been offered an opportunity for an “interview” regarding the issues you have requested to discuss (Keys/Hancock) on multiple occasions, to be conducted upon conclusion of the investigation/s at hand but you have declined that offer, thus far. I have offered to answer what questions I can, even before the conclusion of said investigation/s, by e-mail (which is my practice when I cannot rely on the reporter to accurately relay my statements, in context, without omission). Additionally, since our proposed “interview” will be or would be recorded by my office ( to assure accuracy) your “off the record” related questions would be thrust into the realm of open records anyway which renders you (sic) argument moot. Again, conversation is either “on” the record or it is “off” the record and I think it appropriate to rely on your “word” and integrity, or not. Based on our conversation (by e-mail) today, I have offered a future interview, (again) at the appropriate time, and, I have offered to answer your questions, as appropriate, given the circumstances, even before the conclusion of said investigation/s, but, given your responses I assume you are declining my offers to accommodate your wishes, thus our correspondence is concluded until such a point in time as I am on duty.”
The administrative disciplinary action imposed against Keys and Hancock was demotion. Keys was reduced from the rank of lieutenant to sergeant, and Hancock was reduced from the rank of sergeant to corporal.

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